Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Sandra P. Thomas

Committee Members

Debora R. Baldwin, Gilya G. Schmidt, Brent Mallinckrodt


This phenomenological study was conducted in order to understand the everyday experiences of contemporary mystics in the Jewish traditions of Kabbalah. This author could find no available information about psychological research of this topic in psychological, educational or psychiatric databases. She used the applied phenomenological methodology of Howard Pollio and the Research Groups at the University of Tennessee. Interviews were conducted by this author with eight volunteer, living, adult participants who lived throughout the United States and ranged in age from 37 to 60+ years. These mystics were found through various means after they had described themselves, by their own definitions, as mystics in the Jewish traditions(s) of Kabbalah. There were six men and two women who participated; four were Jewish and four were not. The interviews ranged from one to three hours in length, were recorded, and later transcribed for confidential analyses. After analyzing the results, the Ground of the participants’ experience was determined to be Being Aware. The Thematic Structure of the participants’ everyday experiences of living with their mystical events and processes contained six themes: 1) Divine/Sacred, 2) Receiving/Calling/Gift, 3) Knowing/Realizing, 4) Practices/Body, 5)Developing/Stages, and 6) Struggling: Self/Others/World. Implications for this study suggest that the everyday experiences of these mystical participants are different in many ways from everyday experiences of non-mystics. There is some support for the ideas of spiritual intelligence, spiritual giftedness, consciousness advancement. Appreciating intuition, higher emotional states, and the deeper, yet usually hidden parts of human experience, along with learning to identify and support young people who are having mystical experiences is a worthwhile goal for psychologists.

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